Fact-check: Soros did not write that Russia must be defeated at the cost of Eastern Europeans’ lives
February 27. 2023. – 10:17 AM
In his usual Friday morning interview-like speech on Kossuth Rádió, among others, Viktor Orbán spoke about the war in Ukraine, which began more than a year ago now, on 24 February 2022. That was when it became clear that the Russian army was not just conducting military exercises, as the Russian leadership had claimed for months, but was in fact preparing for an invasion.
"I also saw that paper that George Soros wrote, maybe in '92-'93, (...) where he said that the Russians would have to be defeated sooner or later, and the end of the Cold War only took us half-way there, so they would also have to be defeated militarily. And since the Western democracies resent having their citizens dying in a war in a remote place, it will be the Central Europeans who will have to be sent in, thrown in, persuaded, recruited, and Russia will have to be defeated with their blood and through their sacrifice."
- Orbán said.
That would be a pretty strong statement from George Soros – unusually strong, one might say. Fortunately, his website has all his published articles and essays, so it is relatively easy to trace whether he actually wrote such a thing in 1992-1993.
There are two pieces of writing from 1992 on the billionaire's site: one was published in the New York Times on 5 October. It’s an open letter to then Hungarian Prime Minister József Antall. In the letter, Soros asks Antall whether he and his government support István Csurka, vice-chairman of MDF, (Hungarian Democratic Forum) and Gyula Zacsek, an MDF member of parliament, accusing Soros of conspiring against Hungarian national sentiment using anti-Semitic overtones. There is nothing about defeating the Russians.
The other essay was published in the Wall Street Journal on 12 November. It outlines an idea on how Western assistance could be used to keep alive and support the Russian and post-Soviet economies (with roughly $10 billion in humanitarian aid) in order to avoid a possible civil war or collapse. There is nothing in this 1992 document about fighting Russia either.
However, the website ReMix News happened to publish an article the day before the PM's radio speech claiming that in 1993 George Soros had written that NATO would use soldiers from Eastern Europe as cannon fodder. This article was also cited by the state media's Híradó.hu (it was practically translated, and parts of it were copied almost word for word), and was also republished by the pro-government Demokrata. Orbán was most likely referring to this article.
The ReMix article analyzes a 1993 essay, which can also be found on Soros' site. It is called ‘Toward a New World Order: the Future of NATO’, and in it, he discusses the geopolitical risks of the break-up of the Soviet Union. He points out that if Western leaders (the US in particular) had realised early on that Gorbachev really wanted to cooperate and had taken advantage of it, the Soviet Union might have remained a great power, and together with the US they might have taken a leading role in the UN – no longer as Cold War adversaries but as cooperating allies.
But the Soviet Union collapsed and with it the post-World War II bipolar world order. The US remained the sole superpower, but the Soviet Union was replaced by a vacuum – hence Soros' call for a new world order.
This phrase "new world order" has a very different meaning today than it did 30 years ago. Today, it is most often found in conspiracy theorist and anti-Western Facebook groups, usually in the same sentence as Bill Gates, the Great Reboot, globalists, Freemasons and Jews. ReMix also points this out, but from the other angle: they say the mainstream media treat the term as a conspiracy theory, even though it is evident that Soros uses it openly.
In the essay, Soros also discusses the role NATO would play in this world order: a big one. He acknowledges that the organization is set up for one kind of solution, the military one, but claims that this is not what is needed after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Instead, it is necessary to support the development of emerging democracies and open societies.
(Here again we need to take a detour. A closed society, according to Soros, is one in which there is a central power that tells us what the universal, single truth is, while open societies accept no such thing – but recognise the rule of law and the sovereignty of states. In these societies the state is not based on a dogma and the state does not oppress society. The government is elected by the people, but can be replaced, and minorities and minority opinions are respected. A closed society is more rigid and stable, but cannot develop, whereas an open society develops effectively, but is therefore more vulnerable to collapse. Back in the day, Viktor Orbán was a Soros fellow at Oxford Universtity, researching the transition from dictatorship to democracy.)
Soros saw the solution in a US initiative at the time, the Partnership for Peace, although not in the form the US had envisaged. The essence was the same: a loose system of cooperation between NATO and non-allied countries. The billionaire saw this as a way to fill the gaping hole left by the Soviet Union: Russia would not be hurt by the post-Soviet member states joining the Partnership for Peace because they were not joining NATO, so it would feel less threatened. In his view, there was no place in the Partnership for NATO guarantees (such as Article 5 on mutual defense by military force), the point would have been to help member states become open societies, but by political and economic means, not military ones.
In the essay, Soros explains in detail how he envisages all this, although he admits that there is (was) little chance of it all happening. The new world order would be based on the US as the sole remaining great power and on the open society as the principle of order, and would consist of a web of alliances, the most important of which would be NATO and the Partnership for Peace, which would cover the whole northern hemisphere.
ReMix highlights an excerpt from the article in which, according to them, Soros writes that NATO's Western member states would use Eastern Europeans as cannon fodder while they (the Western members) would only provide technological support. This is how it originally reads:
“The United States would not be called upon to act as the policeman of the world. When it acts, it would act in conjunction with others. Incidentally, the combination of manpower from Eastern Europe with the technical capabilities of NATO would greatly enhance the military potential of the Partnership because it would reduce the risk of body bags for NATO countries, which is the main constraint on their willingness to act. This is a viable alternative to the looming world disorder.”
However, the preceding paragraph is omitted, although it is important for the context. Here Soros writes that everyone knows that US influence in NATO is too strong and that this should be counterbalanced by the strengthening of the other member states within the organization and by the French regaining full membership (which, incidentally, they did later in 2009). He also underlines the need for economic support for the countries of Eastern Europe.
So the billionaire is not saying that the Western countries would only give weapons to the Eastern Europeans to fight their wars with them, but that a Partnership for Peace, extended to as many countries as possible, with a military arsenal provided by NATO behind it, would be a good way to avoid possible armed conflicts.
Then, rather strangely ReMix segues into the Russia-Ukraine war, which actually fits in perfectly with the Hungarian government media's not exactly anti-Russian stance. In their view, Soros described perfectly 30 years ago what is happening now: Eastern Europeans are dying with Western weapons in their hands so that Western soldiers wouldn’t have to. They cite the Vietnam war as an example, which was not looked upon favorably by the public at the time, even though fewer people died than in Ukraine now. They say that the reason why there are no big anti-war demonstrations in Ukraine is that because the government has suppressed opposition parties and the media and banned the Russian Orthodox Church. They do not mention that all of these were very strongly influenced by Russia. In the end, they come very close to a solution.
“Another key factor in the social perception of the conflict is that the war is being fought on Ukrainian soil, which is a strong motivating factor for Ukrainian soldiers.”
This is completely omitted by the Hungarian pro-government media, which describe the events by saying that "Ukrainian soldiers armed with the help of NATO countries are actively fighting Russia. The powerful Western countries have the means for waging war, and Ukraine is providing the equivalent resources, which primarily means human lives". They do not mention why Ukrainian soldiers are fighting with Western weapons in their hands.
The superficial similarity between Vietnam and Ukraine is roughly the fact that people are shooting at each other. They spent a long time repeating that they would not do it, but Russia in the end did attack Ukraine, so the Ukrainians are now fighting a war of defensive warfare within the borders of their own country.
According to ReMix, Soros also writes that NATO wanted to give membership to as many Central European countries as possible as soon as possible. But that's not what he actually says, he says that these countries wanted to become members as soon as possible, before Russia got its act together. By the way, ReMix is a news website focusing on Central Europe, partly funded by the Lajos Batthyány Foundation, through public funds. In 2020, Átlátszó compiled a list of all the connections between the paper and Fidesz.
In the essay, Soros outlines his vision for the Partnership for Peace: he believed it should be an economically attractive alliance, so attractive that Russia would also want to join. But with membership, it would have to be accepted that NATO can invite any member state into its own alliance as well – thus Russia, which in theory is economically prosperous, could not and would not want to veto future NATO expansion.
We now know, of course, that this did not happen, but that what Soros feared would happen is exactly what took place: a nationalist, authoritarian, closed regime emerged, which maintains its power by pointing the finger at enemies within and without. He cites Serbia and Croatia as examples, as in the 1980s and 1990s there was indeed a visible trend for governments in economically unstable former Soviet republics and Balkan countries to flirt with nationalism in order to consolidate their power. A series of ethno-national conflicts were developing at the time, and it was not clear whether they would sweep across the region – which made this a rational concern in those days.
But there is not a word in the essay about 'eventually the Russians would just have to be defeated'. We sent questions on this to Bertalan Havasi, Deputy State Secretary in the Prime Minister's Press Office. We will update this article as soon as he answers.